Poem For People That Are Understandably Too Busy To Read Poetry by Stephen Dunn
Relax. This won't last long. Or if it does, or if the lines make you sleepy or bored, give in to sleep, turn on the T.V., deal the cards. This poem is built to withstand such things. Its feelings cannot be hurt. They exist somewhere in the poet, and I am far away. Pick it up anytime. Start it in the middle if you wish. It is as approachable as melodrama, and can offer you violence if it is violence you like. Look, there's a man on a sidewalk; the way his leg is quivering he'll never be the same again. This is your poem and I know you're busy at the office or the kids are into your last nerve. Maybe it's sex you've always wanted. Well, they lie together like the party's unbuttoned coats, slumped on the bed waiting for drunken arms to move them. I don't think you want me to go on; everyone has his expectations, but this is a poem for the entire family. Right now, Budweiser is dripping from a waterfall, deodorants are hissing into armpits of people you resemble, and the two lovers are dressing now, saying farewell. I don't know what music this poem can come up with, but clearly it's needed. For it's apparent they will never see each other again and we need music for this because there was never music when he or she left you standing on the corner. You see, I want this poem to be nicer than life. I want you to look at it when anxiety zigzags your stomach and the last tranquilizer is gone and you need someone to tell you I'll be here when you want me like the sound inside a shell. The poem is saying that to you now. But don't give anything for this poem. It doesn't expect much. It will never say more than listening can explain. Just keep it in your attache case or in your house. And if you're not asleep by now, or bored beyond sense, the poem wants you to laugh. Laugh at yourself, laugh at this poem, at all poetry. Come on:
Good. Now here's what poetry can do.
Imagine yourself a caterpillar. There's an awful shrug and, suddenly, You're beautiful for as long as you live.